This article will explain where international students who wish to start a business can receive advice and guidance.

Students on a Tier 4 visa are not allowed to start a business or be self-employed in the UK. nest, the University's Student Enterprise Team can support international students interested in business start-up by offering a range of free start-up courses and support to help develop an idea however you are not allowed to start trading.

Before you start up a business in the UK come along to an Enterprise Clinic as there are limitations on setting up a business if you are an international (non-EU) student. Please check the Careers and Employability Service website for details and times of the Enterprise Clinics.

We can help with:

  • Developing a business idea
  • Developing a project or business for the benefit of the community (social enterprise)
  • Developing a product/service idea

While studying we can support your startup development but you are not allowed to start trading.

Please refer to UKVI for more details on eligibility of starting a business whilst studying.

Starting a business in the UK upon graduation

The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa is for non-EEA international graduates (currently on a Tier 4 Visa) who have a viable, genuine and credible business idea that they want to put into practice in the UK. The University of Portsmouth is one of the endorsing institutions for this visa, and requires applicants to meet the following criteria in full. Applicants must be students or graduates of the University of Portsmouth.

Applicants must:

  • begin the process- this must happen at least three months before their existing visa is due to expire
  • be fully engaged with the nest Team at the University and must participate fully on either the Route To Startup programme or Social Startup development programme
  • have a valid Tier 4 Visa which can be switched (following approval by the UKVI) onto the Tier One Graduate Entrepreneur Visa route
  • provide evidence that they meet the maintenance funds requirement

PLEASE NOTE: These are guidelines and could change without notice. Further information about eligibility, as well as the application form and guidance notes can be found at the UKVI website.

More information and full details of the process can be found on MyCareer.

Students and graduates should make initial enquiries to the nest team by attending an Enterprise Clinics, please check the Careers and Employability website for details and times. Appointments to meet with one of the enterprise advisers can be made by emailing

How to Contact us

Visit us at:

Careers and Employability Service

University of Portsmouth

28 Guildhall Walk



Opening hours:

Monday–Thursday: 8.30am–5pm

Friday: 8.30am–4pm


Telephone or Email:

t: +44 (0)23 9284 2684


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